The last time we visited Hossegor was a 2 day flying visit on our way to Mundaka (home of the best “left” in Europe). It was the end of March. It was cold, stormy and generally a bit of a let-down. But Hossegor should be anything but that. And our 8 night visit in the first week of October didn’t disappoint.
A small town on the South West Coast of France, nestled on the border of the Basque Country and at the foot of the Pyrenees, it is also home to the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro, the 19th stop on this year’s World Surf League tour. As per most of our trips, we booked a small ‘cottage’ on Airbnb, a hop-skip-jump from the beach break of La Graviere (home to the competition). A couple of days in we realised we had completely lucked out; the rest of the houses around us taking home to the competitors and sponsors. We also lucked out on the weather and the surf, which makes a complete change to the norm and a welcome break from the autumnal feel of home. This also meant the competition started on the first day of the open window*. Who’d have thought we’d get to watch Kelly Slater warm up on the sand in front of us and kick out some moves on the swell breaking within sight? That’s certainly a bucket-list moment well and truly ticked off.
The highlight of my week however, was seeing the women’s heats. Those of you that have read previous blogs and articles I’ve written on other sites will know I’m a “bit” of a cycling fan. I’ve been lucky to attend a wealth of events and get up-close-and-personal to the riders on a number of occasions. What makes the Roxy Pro different is the pure inclusivity of the “women’s” event with the men’s. And it was inspiring and a little breath taking to be at the heart of an event that doesn’t treat a sport any different** just because there happens to be women in the water instead. The number of spectators gathered on the beach didn’t differ either – everyone there to watch a sport, my boyfriend admitting he probably knows a lot more about the female surfers because of duel-eventing than he would if it was held separately. And, I certainly didn’t feel the need to run down the beach flying the #womeninsport flag. All of the competitors were just that. Competitors.
Besides surfing, watching surfing and the occasional morning run along the beach (ouch!), we took the opportunity on one of the lay days to head out and explore. That’s also what’s great about Hossegor; the ability to visit lots of other towns, villages and sites within an hour’s drive. We ended up in St-Jean-de-Luz for the afternoon, sampling the local Basque cake (a must try), having spent the morning on a very old railway (c. 1924) traversing up the ‘first mountain of the Pyrenees’ La Rhune.
On our last visit, we found respite from the weather in a day spa in Capbreton and we didn’t have to find an excuse to go back this time. I often wonder why we don’t have places like this in the UK. 15 Euros gets you 2 hours entry and full use the facilities; a mix of thermal pools, jet streams, outdoor therma-pool and a sauna and steam room. And if you’re crazy enough, you could give aqua-spin a go too.
Next year we want to extend by another week, take the mountain bikes and hit the trails too. Maybe there’ll be an all-inclusive event on too 😉
*Surfing events are held during open windows – a period in which the event should run over a set number of days when the conditions are suited. Participants need to be available / on-site every day for the call to be made as to whether heats will be run that day.
** Granted, the women’s even is more likely to be put in the water in less favourable conditions; but it’s come a long way and other sports can learn a lot from it.